Introducing a man who may not be on television sets across the world, representing his country at the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, but a man who has put in a lot of hard work and effort, playing for his national team 🏴 since 2011. He has progressed through the ranks over the years, playing for the Scotland U-15’s, U-17’s, U-19’s, and then eventually becoming a crucial part of the senior team as well.
He recently finished as the highest wicket-taker at the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers, picking up 17 wickets in 7 games including a best of 5/33 against Zimbabwe. We at Read Scoops were extremely lucky to talk to the 26-year old bowling all-rounder and ask him about his experience, playing the qualifiers and ending as one of the top players of that tournament too. Keep reading for more!
Safyaan Sharif social profiles 🌐:
SAFYAAN SHARIF’S Exclusive Interview With Read Scoops:
Q1. How would you describe the overall experience at the 2018 ICC World Cup qualifiers?
The overall experience was great. Playing in a tournament like that with so many quality sides and players is always nice, and the way the tournament went for us (Scotland) as a team was also good. I think that’s the best I’ve seen us play since I made my debut in 2011. It felt good to be a part of the tournament but it’s disappointing that we didn’t qualify.
Q2. Describe the feeling of having played well but still not making it to the World Cup.
Of course, I’m very delighted that I did well personally and made good contributions to my team throughout the tournament. However, like I said, I’m very disappointed about how that final Super Sixes game and the overall journey ended for us there at the qualifiers. We got unlucky with a few decisions and such things at crucial points play a big part. Honestly, I think we were quite unlucky and we still feel a little disappointed that only 2 teams proceeded from the qualifiers, with ICC’s decision of allowing only 10 teams in the 2019 World Cup.
Safyaan picked up 17 wickets in 7 games, which was the highest in the tournament. He was also one of the leading wicket-takers in 2014 World Cup qualifiers too, where he picked up 14 wickets in 8 games. Clearly, he is the man for big occasions; the one you want in your team in such crucial tournaments. Scotland’s loss to West Indies in the Super Sixes game was very unfortunate, as they were 5 runs short of the D/L par score when rain arrived, even though they seemed in a good position to win the game that day. West Indies and Afghanistan ultimately qualified from that tournament, and deserving teams like Zimbabwe and Scotland were eliminated.
Q3. How do you feel about your game at the moment? Do you feel that you step up in important games/tournaments?
I think I’ve improved my game since 2014 and I’ve become a lot more consistent with my bowling. I’ve learnt a lot of new skills and have tried to build my pace up as well. So yeah, for me, it’s just about that consistency, making regular contributions to my team and trying to make sure that we win. The way I’ve been going about my business has been really great. I still need to keep working hard, get strong and fit, and improve in whatever areas I can. Overall, I think I’ve been doing a good job for my country but of course, there’s always room for improvement so I’m still working hard to get there.
Q4. How do you feel about ICC’s new format of having just 10 teams at the World Cup?
If you look at the recent qualifiers tournament, associate countries beat full-members nations so it goes to show that we can compete with any of the top-class teams. It’s not like how it used to be earlier, where test-playing sides used to dominate, but now associates have proved that they can beat any team from around the world. I think ICC reducing the World Cup to only 10 participating countries wasn’t the best of moves, especially after the good performances from associate countries in those qualifiers.
Q5. What’s the next goal for Scotland Cricket?
At the moment, I think the Scotland Cricket Team shouldn’t dwell on the fact that we aren’t going to the World Cup and rather focus on making a big statement whenever we do get our chances to play. It’s important that we understand what needs to be done, get matches with more top sides and probably get our test status as well. Up next, we have a One Day International against England early in June, followed by 2 T20Is against Pakistan.
“Scotland isn’t here to mess around. We want to compete against top teams, and beat team too.”
Straight after that, we have a T20 tri-series against Holland and Ireland. We’ve got to show the world that Scotland isn’t here to mess around but that we want to compete against top teams, and beat team too. So yeah, there’s plenty to look forward to. These are big games coming up and we just need to focus on playing these games well and try to make a big statement.
Q6. Tell us about your association with Stem Sports and the work they’re doing right now.
Stem Sports is doing a really incredible job at the moment, finding sponsorships and deals for players. They’re going to be working on getting the best opportunities for me, including getting me into a team in County Cricket as well. I think the association with Stem Sports has been really good so far and there’s probably more to come, so I’m looking forward to this new partnership with them.
Q7. How would you describe yourself as a person, apart from being an international cricketer.
I’m actually very much a family guy. We’re quite tight as a group, so I love spending time with my family. Apart from cricket, I just like to chill with them and go out once in a way, maybe.
Q8. A message for young, aspiring sportsmen.
Yes, my message to young sportsmen is simple. Especially aspiring cricketers. Always listen to what your coaches say. Listen to them and enjoy every moment of your learning and what you’re getting taught. Whenever you go out to play the game, play fearless cricket and more importantly, just enjoy yourself.
I’m very grateful to Safyaan Sharif for taking the time out to talk to us and giving us insights into the ICC World Cup qualifiers, what it felt to be a part of it, and about Scotland Cricket’s future plans. On behalf of the entire team of Read Scoops, I wish him the best of luck in taking his cricketing career to the next level, and hope that he will one day feature in T20 leagues such as the BPL, PSL, and probably even the IPL. Good luck Safyaan!
– Dwayne Fernandes, Read Scoops